Pontoon

Pontoon

A pontoon is a flat-bottomed boat made of wood, waterproofed canvas, galvanized steel or aluminum, which is designed to support a structure on water. Military pontoons are used to build temporary pontoon bridges for river crossings, where permanent bridges are not available or have been destroyed in the conflict. Pontoons and bridging materials may be transported by artillery, pontoon or bridging trains of the army, using dedicated pontoon wagons. Military pontoon bridges differ from civilian floating bridges in that they use the smaller, lighter, and more mobile military pontoons, rather than heavy river barges.

Several pontoons may be lashed together to ferry troops and vehicles across the river, until a pontoon bridge has been completed.

French engineers building a pontoon bridge across the Danube on 13 August 1704, during the Battle of Blenheim.

French engineers building a pontoon bridge across the Danube at Sonderheim on 13 August 1704, during the Battle of Blenheim. The bridge was not completed in time, and many retreating French soldiers drowned when they attempted to evade capture by swimming across the river. The scene is a section of the diorama of the Battle of Blenheim displayed at the Heimatmuseum in Höchstädt an der Donau.

Équipage of one Pontoon

  • 4 Baulks (balks) 22′ 8″ long, 1′ wide, 4″ thick
  • 1 Gangboard 22′ long, 1′ wide, 2½″ thick
  • 6 Chesses 11′ 6″ long, 2′ 4″ wide, 1½″ thick
  • 2 Oars
  • 1 Anchor
  • 1 Graplin
  • 1 Setter
  • 4 Iron bolts, with keys
  • 2 Mounting bars
  • 4 Binding sticks
  • 4 Spring lines
  • 4 Faukes
  • 1 Cable
  • 1 Sheer-line
  • 1 Boat hook
  • 1 Maul
  • 4 Pickets
  • 1 Small pump
  • 1 Windlass
  • 1 Pontoon carriage, complete

Dimensions of Colonel Congreve's Wooden Pontoons

  • Length at top: 26 feet
  • Length at bottom: 23 feet
  • Depth 28 inches
  • Width 23 inches

The common pontoons will support a weight of 4 or 5000 pounds. They are generally placed, in forming a bridge, about their own width asunder. See Bridge.

Military Glossary